Ending the bucha battle: Local company settles for new name

After a legal battle with Barefoot wine-maker Gallo, Barefoot Bucha has rebranded to Blue Ridge Bucha. Photo by John Robinson After a legal battle with Barefoot wine-maker Gallo, Barefoot Bucha has rebranded to Blue Ridge Bucha. Photo by John Robinson

In April, Gallo—the $4 billion corporation responsible for making Barefoot Wine—sued local mom-and-pop Barefoot Bucha purveyors Kate and Ethan Zuckerman for infringing on its name and logo’s trademark. The kombucha makers settled the suit in August by agreeing to change their name, and now, they are announcing the new moniker customers will see on their labels when reaching for a bottle of Elderflower Sunrise.

And the winner is: Blue Ridge Bucha.

To choose a new name, the Zuckermans created a crowd-sourced contest that received more than 500 entries.

“When we started looking at all the entries coming in, we noticed a distinct pattern: One in five contest entrants suggested Blue Ridge Bucha,” Ethan Zuckerman said in a press release. An Internet search for Blue Ridge Bucha already turns up hits for Barefoot Bucha because there’s a close association with their drink and the mountains where it’s brewed, he adds.

Because so many contestants suggested the winning name, the Zuckermans “literally drew a name out of a hat” to select a grand prize winner. Now Edward Warwick, of Charlottesville, will receive a year’s supply of kombucha.

“We love that our community picked the name,” Kate Zuckerman says. “It just feels right given our deep roots here. There were a lot of creative names submitted, but the beverage space is going through a bit of a crisis with trademark litigation right now. That’s definitely not something we want to go through twice, and picking a place name gives us certain protections from that.”

She says her team is thankful for the pro bono support of the University of San Francisco’s law clinic, because they were able to keep legal fees under $10,000, which is a low-end amount for this type of case. It will cost approximately $20,000 to rebrand their company, she says, “not counting the hundreds of hours of time it has taken us and our team to manage the trademark dispute and the rebranding project.”

The team is doing a soft launch of the new brand; once a store runs through its Barefoot Bucha inventory it will receive Blue Ridge Bucha-branded products.

With a company founded on environmental consciousness, the bucha brewers take pride in the fact that they’ve saved half a million bottles through their refillable bottle program, in which customers bring reusable bottles to filling stations rather than purchase a new one each time.

Whole Foods Charlottesville will host an official launch of the new brand from 3-5pm on January 15. Attendees will receive a free 32-ounce mini growler from Blue Ridge Bucha and no RSVP is required.

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